I don’t really know how to start this post, only that I want to take a minute and check in here.
I suppose the obvious place to start writing is that I’m 10 timezones and approximately 8,000 miles from home and you might be wondering how I got here and what I’m doing. Short answer: I came to see someone and he sent me tickets. It’s the Ex’s year to have the kids for Christmas. A friend is cat-sitting. So here I am. In Doha on Christmas night.
And it’s been the most relaxing Christmas of my life. It’s almost 8pm now and I have a little time alone. I’ve called all my closest family members.
I went to Christmas Eve church yesterday. Like any large church in the United States the police were there directing traffic and every seat was taken. Maybe that’s the same everywhere, the Christmas-Easter Effect where suddenly every church is way over capacity because so many people only go once or twice a year.
But for the most part Christmas is just another day here. None of the crazy pressure and stress and materialistic madness. And I feel good.
Some of you already to know that this isn’t exactly my favorite time of the year. Usually there’s some kind of ugly emotional breakdown right about now. So this is a wonderful change from the usual pattern. The weather and the company are both pleasant. I’m a little disoriented by the jetlag and geographical displacement. It’s kind of reassuring to know which direction my host prays, from this I can oriented myself to know which way is home and if it weren’t for that I’d be completely lost. But if my clock and my compass are still spinning my head and my heart are content.
I should probably apologize for having called my mother after church to rub it in just a little that even going to the midnight service my Christmas still started 10 hours before her Christmas. But I don’t really feel at all guilty. It’s the first time I’ve been to the late service on Christmas Eve, always at home I’m in a hurry to go early and be home and get the kids in bed and stay up half the night Santa-ing. My first Christmas with no hurry, no rush, no crush. Just me wandering into church alone, packed in a crowed of total strangers, ducking under tall people to find a place I can see.
I could understand if some people are a bit worried or confused about my adventure here. You’ve probably seen and heard all kinds of horrible things on TV that make the entire Middle East seem scary and dangerous and anti-Christian. And it is true that no place is perfect, that every place has it’s assholes and idiots and problems. But truly I’ve had nothing weird or scary happen.
Except public bathrooms. Those are weird here. They actually have real privacy for every toilet, none of those stupid stalls with cracks around the door. It’s…weird. Oh, and people are way friendly and kind and no one ever gets murdered here. There’s practically no crime and that’s really weird too. And families are weird. Like, men carry babies and hold purses for women with no embarrassment. That’s like superweird. And people are really tolerant of kids acting like kids in public. I don’t know what to do with that. Imagine seeing a toddler do a toddler-thing in a crowded shopping place and no one giving her parents mean looks or unwanted words about it? I’m telling you, this place is really scary and I’m constantly afraid a 2y’o on a trike is going to cut me off on the sidewalk. It’s that dangerous.